BUTTS COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) — “My promise to the citizens of Butts County is to protect the public, especially the children. This means making families aware if a registered sex offender is living close to them,” said Sheriff Gary Long after a judge ruled against “no trick or treat” signs placed near homes of registered sex offenders.
The signs, which were previously placed on homes ahead of Halloween 2018, were intended to warn parents not to take their children to specific homes where a sex offender resides.
Corey McClendon, Reginald Holden and Christopher Reed filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office to prevent the signs from going up this year.
Reed’s father told CBS46 under no circumstances can anyone place a sign, or do anything for that matter, to his property.
“I paid for the land, I paid for the taxes. So who are they to come and put signs on my property,” he asked. “I think it’s wrong. I think it’s humiliating,” he added.
“The judge in this matter has ruled that I can not put signs on the right-of-way of the three offender that filed the lawsuit,” said Long. “While I respectfully and strongly disagree with the judge’s ruling, I must abide by the ruling,” added Long.
Long also stated he sought legal advice prior to posting the controversial signs out, insuring they were in compliance with Georgia Law O.C.G.A. 42-1-12 (i)(5), which states:
“The Sheriff’s Office in each county shall: Inform the public of the presence of sexual offenders in each community.”
Though the signs are a no-go, Long says he and his deputies will be out in full force to protect trick-or-treaters.
“For this Halloween, our deputies will keep a very strong presence in the neighborhoods where we know sex offenders are likely to be. Deputies will have candy in their patrol vehicles and will interact with the children until the neighborhood is clear of trick-or-treaters to ensure the safety of our children on Halloween night.”
Long also urged the public to not take matters into their own hands. Adding, “we understand frustration with the judge’s ruling, but we all must abide by it unless it is overturned on appeal.”
To view the sex offender registry map, click here.
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